Posts Tagged ‘darren bent’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Sunderland



Last Season: 13th

New Signings: Angeleri, Mignolet, Bramble, Mensah, Riveros, Al-Muhammadi

Key Player: Darren Bent

One To Watch: Jordan Henderson

Needs A Big Year: Kenwyne Jones

Would Quite Like: Long unbeaten runs rather than long runs without beating. Remain ahead the Magpies.

Steve Bruce reveals how many Twitter followers he has. Darren Bent not impressed.

Prediction: 14th

Thoughts: Sunderland started off very well last season before enduring a horrible 14 game run without a win. They recovered towards the end of the season but it felt like they underachieved somewhat. Darren Bent was predictably excellent with 24 goals and Steve Bruce will be looking to him to produce similar numbers.

The surprise departure of captain Lorik Cana after just one season leaves quite a big hole in central midfield so the hope is Lee Cattermole will have a less injury truncated season this time round. Bramble is a decent addition in central defence – let’s not forget it was Steve Bruce who got him to a consistent level, while Jordan Henderson will want to continue making an impression.

Kenwyne Jones needs to rediscover the form that saw him linked with big money moves to the likes of Spurs and Liverpool. It’s hard to know what to predict for Sunderland – the teams between 9th and 14th are all very even in terms of ability I’d say. The high turnover of players at the Stadium of Light means it might be another season towards the bottom end of the group.


Fantasy Premier League – Gameweek 34 Preview


Quick one this week as there are plenty of other things I need to do.

After the shambles of week 32, this time it was a bit better in what was generally a low-scoring gameweek. I had the top-scoring player in Adam Johnson but my captain Torres was helpfully taken off after 64 minutes against Birmingham having yet to do anything. Liverpool then proceeded to have a quite a few good chances. Thanks for nothing Rafa. Eight points left on the bench too as I got my Birmingham defenders set the wrong way round.

My league lead was extended a little and is now back to 57 points which isn’t too bad. Frank Lampard is now back in my team so there is less fear of him scoring seven goals and being someone’s captain. An average week overall but in my league context not too bad at all. It’s quite exciting behind me as it’s a three-way battle for second with just three points separating them. The Football Guy has picked up recently but is still back in fifth.


Gameweek 33 Top Gun (aka Tom Cruise Approves):

adam johnson man city

Maverick was annoyed at how hard it was to find a decent picture of Adam Johnson in a Man City shirt. This isn't even that good!

Yes Adam Johnson was the highest scorer with 14 this week, through three assists and a man of the match performance vs Burnley. Closely following were his Man City teammates Adebayor with 13 and Tevez with 12. Tottenham’s keeper Gomes was the only other player in double figures also earning 12, mainly through saving two Darren Bent penalties.


Three Captain Choices:

1. Lampard/Chelsea – Home game against Bolton, who he regularly scores against. Seems to have a second wind (digestive perhaps?!) which is leading to a strong finish to the season.

2. Torres/Liverpool – He was a bust last weekend but scored twice in midweek Europa League action. The visitors to Anfield are Fulham who also had midweek action, thus cancelling out tiredness issues. They’re cruising to the end of the league season so it should be a comfortable home win here.

3. A Man Utd player – Blackburn are good at home but I guarantee Fergie will get a favour from his mate Fat Sam Allardyce.

Frank Lampard Chelsea

Gets a Captain's tick! And a portion of chips.


Three Suggested Transfers In:

1. Bent/Sunderland – He’s chasing the golden boot and faces West Ham, Burnley and Hull next. My pre-season each way bet on him being top-scorer at something like 50-1 looks like coming in.

2. Bullard/Hull – Burnley this week and plays twice next week. Still cheap, still the heartbeat of Hull’s team.

3. Van Persie/Arsenal – Reported that he *may* be available against Spurs. Obviously he’s be lacking match practice, but remember how many goals Arsenal were scoring at the start of the year?

bent sunderland

Might be worth a pick.


Three To Avoid:

1. Tottenham players – Arsenal then Chelsea then Man Utd. In fact maybe pick Gomes as he’s going to busy!

2. Man City players – Face Birmingham and Man Utd at home then Arsenal away. Bring them back in week 37 where they play twice.

3. Arteta/Everton – Niggly groin injury. We need players that play at this stage.

gomes spurs

Are you taking the mick?!



The Six Pointer: Three-ways and four-ways, attack vs defence & more…


A quick one today as I’m writing this at work as I don’t yet have internet access in my new flat (posts maybe a bit sporadic for the next week or two).

1. It’s interesting to see Arsenal’s attack being lauded after 36 goals in just 11 games but it’s premature to think they’ll definitely break 100 goals. All their home games bar Spurs have been against sides in the bottom eight while it was the first time since the 6-1 against Everton on the opening day that they’d scored more than two away.

That said, they have been pretty awesome and you can only beat what’s put in front of you. The 4-3-3 formation suits Fabregas down to a tee and he already has nearly as many assists as last year as well as the small matter of nine goals in all competitions. Sunderland away is next but the real test comes in three weeks when Chelsea come to the Emirates. The best attack vs the best defence; something will have to give.

2. Surely if you’re 2-0 down in a game you’ll take a draw at the end of it. I jest slightly but Man City once again showed defensive frailty against Burnley and the current back four does not seem up to scratch if City are to be pushing for a Champions League spot. They may have only lost once but drawing all the time is not a recipe for success (just ask Liverpool last season). In the last five drawn games they could have instead won two and lost three but still been better off. Needing time to gel isn’t a good excuse.

3. It’s still only a matter of time before the Tango Man gets the chop at Hull. Jimmy Bullard was inspirational in his home debut (ten months after signing) but Stoke were doing fine until Faye got himself sent off. As luck would have it Hull have two more home games coming up against West Ham and Everton and I’d hazard a guess that if he loses both he’ll be out of a job.

phil brown

Phil Brown

4. Man Utd were probably marginally the better team but Chelsea still found a way to win the game. That’s usually the mark of champions elect. A five point gap is not insurmountable at this stage of the season but if you take the big four clashes as the main opportunity to make up ground/build a lead, then Man Utd’s habit of losing them (just two wins from nine this season and last) makes life all the more difficult for themselves in terms of catching up.

5. I imagine missing a penalty wasn’t in Darren Bent’s list of ways to show Harry Redknapp the error of this ways.

6. Is the Premier League turning into a three-way race for the title and a four-way race for 4th place? Of Aston Villa, Liverpool, Tottenham and Man City the latter have the biggest squads but the former two have more experience of being involved in such a race. Villa were very good against a terrible Bolton team and might be better placed this season when they’re having to chase a 4th spot rather than lead from the front and collapse like last year. 



Weekly Photoshop – Beachballgate


After all the fuss and furore surrounding Darren Bent’s the beachball’s winner against Liverpool, it was inevitable that this would be the theme in this week’s Guardian Photoshop comp. As we all know, it shouldn’t have been given, which makes it all the more funnier that it was! Lots of different things you could do – I went for a slightly leftfield entry as you can see below.

Liverpool beach ball

Seeing as there's seemingly no problem with inflatables being on the pitch, Rafa's taken the opportunity to increase the much maligned squad depth at Liverpool with a few bargain signings.


Plenty more entries can be found in the rest of the gallery here.





The Six Pointer – Temper temper, goalscoring riches & more…


That was the weekend that was…


1. Liverpool were beaten for the third straight week and it’s starting to get a bit boring with how often we have to mention how thin their squad is. Of course any team would miss their two best players, not least when those players are Gerrard and Torres, but of all the big four sides they are least equipped to cope.

Dirk Kuyt toiled on his own up front and reminded us all why he has been playing on the right wing instead for the past 18 months. Meanwhile in the middle Jay Spearing was given his Premier League debut and looked a bit lost by all accounts.

Hilariously the jokers at the Liverpool official website gave him man of the match honours which must have been news to everyone else watching the game. Cana and Cattermole once again dominated for Sunderland and just taking a random cross section of national newspapers, Spearing was not even the best Liverpool midfielder, let alone the best player on the pitch.

The white one Jose, save the white one...

The white one Jose, save the white one...

As for the beach ball goal, it shouldn’t really have stood but these things happen. Sunderland fully deserved the victory. Ironically enough it was a Liverpool fan who threw the thing on the pitch in the first place! The title challenge is over, even if they beat Man Utd next week. There is just nothing to fear with this Liverpool team and I can see them losing several more times before the season is over.


2. Jermaine Defoe needs to keep one eye on his temperament. You can’t be taking players to the World Cup who are liable to get themselves needlessly sent off. Fall out of favour now and it’s going to be very hard to get back in, what with so few friendlies left.

Defoe’s red card also provides a good opportunity for Peter Crouch to cement his claim for a spot in the Spurs starting line up as well as the England squad as Plan B/C. Fortunately for Defoe it won’t be at his expense. For now.

Dum dum Defoe.

Dum dum Defoe.


3. Since James Collins was sold to Villa, West Ham have failed to keep a clean sheet. That does over emphasise his importance somewhat but when you look at Villa’s form since he joined, it does illustrates that he is a good player.

I had big concerns over Villa’s ability to replace Martin Laursen this season but to be fair to Martin O’Neill he seems to have pulled it off, mainly by signing two players in Dunne and Collins. They exposed Chelsea’s (well, Carvalho’s) set piece deficiency at the weekend and have formed a promising partnership at the back.

Back at Upton Park, Upson has been left to do it on his own (Tomkins is not the finished article yet) and the lack of defensive options has been a big reason why the Hammers have struggled so far this year.


4. Man Utd were controlled enough against Bolton and are back top. Away games against Liverpool and Chelsea are coming up in the next three matches and we should have a clearer idea of just how good they are this season after that.


5. David Dunn now had four league goals this season, level with Fabregas for most from midfield. Easily Blackburn’s best player, how their season evolves will depend on him.


6. Arsenal made heavy weather of Birmingham before eventually completing the job late on. After going 2-0 up they switched to cruise control and started treating it almost like a training match. When Bowyer got one back after the traditional Arsenal goalkeeper fail under a high ball, you could see the nervousness that was so prevalent last year creeping in again.

This was after a spectacularly mis-timed jump.

This was after a spectacularly mis-timed jump. Almunia has taught him well.

Fortunately class eventually told and Arshavin slotted home a nice goal to wrap up the points. Even though I’m not totally convinced by the defence, Arsenal currently have so many goal scoring options in the side that they could well last the distance. In eight games, 27 goals have been scored from 12 different players.

The number of injuries suffered at the Emirates means there’ll never be a situation where everyone is available at any once but as long as four of Fabregas, Arshavin, Van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo, Rosicky, Nasri, Walcott and Vela are fit at any given time then a sustained challenge may yet be forthcoming.

Simples. Eventually.

Simples. Eventually.



Season Previews 09/10 – Tottenham Hotspur



Last Season: 8th plus a Carling Cup final.

Say hello to your new teammates: Peter Crouch, Kyle Naughton, Kyle Walker, Sebastian Bassong.

Close the door on your way out: Darren Bent, Chris Gunter, Didier Zokora, Gilberto, Ben Alnwick, Ricardo Rocha.

Predicted star: Luka Modric naturally took a while to adapt but by the end of last season was running every game for Spurs. A total of nine assists and three goals should be bettered with a full season of protection from Wilson Palacios. Tottenham need to run their game through him as much as possible.

Needs a big year: Harry Redknapp has no more ‘We had two points from eight games when I joined’ excuses – he’s been backed in the transfer market and now has to deliver.

One to watch: John Bostock made a few cameo appearances off the bench last season and should be given greater opportunity to impress this time round. The dearth of quality central midfielders at the club means he could well find himself a regular by the end of the season despite being just 17.

What they want to happen: Be ahead of Arsenal. Realistically though 5th or 6th and a trophy of some kind would be an excellent season.

Nightmare scenario: Another eighth position or so. They haven’t spent the best part of £70 million since January for nothing.

Plan A: With a defensive midfielder finally in place, they can let Modric or Aaron Lennon attack with through balls and probing passing or pace, dribbling and wayward crossing respectively. Harry loves a little and large partnership, so expect Crouch and Defoe to be first choice strikers even though Robbie Keane is captain.

Plan B, just in case: Hope Ledley King stays fit. That or just never ever play Gareth Bale in the league.

Three (points) is something he's never experienced.

Three (points) is something he's never experienced.

Predicted finish: 7th.

Why? For many seasons now, Tottenham’s transfer policy has been a bit odd for one reason or another. Either having an ill fated director of football or whatever Comolli’s job title was to now having a manager who’s fond of buying players simply because they’re available, not necessarily because they’re needed. They seem to finally be addressing their flaws however – Palacios was signed in January to beef up a lightweight midfield, while Bassong has been brought in to provide central defensive cover for the oft-injured Woodgate and King. Swapping Bent for Crouch won’t make too much difference in the goals scored column and they still don’t have a viable left wing option.

The squad is massive and they have good options and backup across the whole pitch. All the youngsters they’ve bought over the past few years should surely start to make an impact too. There are issues like David Bentley to sort as well. They can’t just let him waste on the bench, play him and improve him or get rid.

Big man little man.

Big man little man.

Regardless, Harry Redknapp is pretty good at building a side if given the money and Spurs should see another improvement from 8th to 7th. I can’t see them finishing higher just as Man City have bought better players while Everton are too solid a team and just won’t drop as many cheap points as Spurs.

If Tottenham maintain the home form which saw White Hart Lane go from seeing the most goals in 2007/098 to the least last time, then I may be proved wrong and they could get 5th. The likelihood is that it will be the usual mix of good performances against the top clubs (Man Utd aside) followed by defeat to a struggler who wants it more.



Season Previews 09/10 – Sunderland



Last Season: 16th.

Say hello to your new teammates: Lorik Cana, Frazier Campbell, Paulo da Silva, Darren Bent, Lee Cattermole.

Close the door on your way out: Michael Chopra, Dean Whitehead, Greg Halford, Dwight Yorke, David Connolly.

Predicted star: Darren Bent has lots of critics, many of them at Spurs but there’s no denying that he scores goals. He was Tottenham’s top scorer last season which says a lot about the way they work if they’re willing to let him go. In Kenwyne Jones he should have an ideal strike partner whose strength and ability to hold up the ball will complement Bent’s speed and play off the last man. I mentioned in a betting preview that you can get 50/1 on him to be top goalscorer which is a great each way bet. I reckon he’ll get 15 league goals for sure.

Needs a big year: Kieran Richardson was being touted as a regular England player for the problem left wing position not too long ago but he lost his way somewhat in the last season or two. He doesn’t have any real rivals in that area (Andy Reid is too slow to play wide) and he be looked to for service to the new look strikeforce.

One to watch: Lorik Cana was signed this summer from Marseille and immediately installed as captain, which shows how highly Bruce regards him. A tough tackling midfielder with an eye for goal, the 26 year old Albanian should fit right in the Premier League. I think the duo of him and fellow new signing Lee Cattermole will be amongst the better central midfield partnerships this season.



What they want to happen: Steve Bruce to work his magic and lift Sunderland away from the annual struggle to avoid relegation back to the Championship. Top half could well be in sight.

Nightmare scenario: Sunderland’s defence proves to be a weak link as they fail to respond to Bruce’s organisational skills.

Plan A: Become tough to beat by tightening up at the back. The midfield of Cattermole and Cana is aggressive and defensive enough to allow Malbranque and Richardson to create down the flanks. A big man and pace merchant duo up front will try to improve on Sunderland’s measly 34 goals last season.

Plan B, just in case: Play it direct to Jones, whose underrated creative skills will hold the play up before playing in Bent.

Predicted finish: 9th.

Why? There is cause for optimism at the Stadium of Light this season. After the drama of Roy Keane leaving mid-season and Ricky Sbragia only just keeping them up, there was a need for some stability and re-assessment. Bringing in Steve Bruce is quite a coup – I think he’s amongst the best managers outside the top four. The signings are no longer limited to Irish reserves, Man United rejects and other various cloggers.

Imaginative, good quality players have been brought in and most of the Wearsider’s needs have been addressed. A new look midfield will provide bite and improve the side’s away form. Cattermole was linked with Liverpool while Cana is an aggressive, destructive yellow card machine (this is a good thing though). Instant leadership on the pitch too.

Should work well with Bent.

Should work well with Bent.

Darren Bent does miss a lot but he also scores a lot and he should turn some of the 1-0 losses into draws and some of the draws into wins. If Bruce can get the defence organised as well as he did at Wigan then they will be much harder to break down. Only Paulo da Silva has been signed in defence but Anton Ferdinand is a good enough player to base the back four on. Looking to the future, Bruce has an extensive scouting/contacts network which will bear fruit in coming seasons (see Valencia, Palacios, Zaki etc). I think Sunderland are in line for an excellent season and led by Jones and Bent should get enough wins to progress to the top half of the table.



Weekly Photoshop – Darren Bent


The Premier League’s most technologically social player is the the theme this week. Darren Bent and his twitter account got him into £80,000 worth of trouble after he slagged off Spurs chairman Daniel Levy. He also said he didn’t want to go to Hull. Well who would?! This was a bit rushed as I’ve been doing all the pre-season previews but  here you go anyway.


It seems some of the other players in the Bent transfer saga have twitter accounts too.

It seems some of the other players in the Bent transfer saga have twitter accounts too.


Funnier ones to be found here.




Old entries.

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